Friday, February 4, 2011

Call Me Unpublished

I thought all I had to do was send Glass Houses to a couple of major publishers and wait for the bidding war to begin. The resulting six-figure advance would enable me to retire from my day job. I'd move to a beach house somewhere in South Carolina, Georgia or northern Florida to write all the time.

That's what I get for thinking. Nobody accepts unsolicited manuscripts. For "the unpublished" (said like you have a mouth full of something unpleasant), writing a great book isn't enough. With or without a proven track record, you need a solid plan to market and promote the book.

"The unpublished" are unknown entities, a writhing mass of author-wannabees all clamoring to join the chosen few. There are lots of different paths to publication. Before I'm done I may try them all. For now I've decided to try to find a literary agent.

The first step is to research literary agents to find a good match. They have niches, too. Submitting my book to an agent who specializes in Christian works of fiction, for example, would be a profound waste of time. Aside from the obvious, a memoir is considered nonfiction.

A variety of tools enabled me to produce a list of agents who like memoirs and either gay authors or subjects. Internet searches turned up additional information, including bios and statements of interest. A literary agent without a web site in 2011 seems fairly useless to me. Striking them cut my list in half. Upon closer inspection many of the rest were easily struck from the list, too. The also-rans seemed like a good enough fit in a bland, generic sort of way.

I felt a connection with two agents--both from the same agency. It's like they were speaking to me. The one I really like said she "is looking for exceptional writing [snip] that touches the heart and makes us feel something." Sounds like Glass Houses to me.

The next step is to write and submit a query to her. The query is a one-page pitch to sell the book, my writing ability and the marketability of the book. If the query fails to stand out from the hundreds she receives every week, it's over (at least with this agent). Talk about pressure. I've written a first draft and have already changed it a thousand times.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, you keep reading. And keep sending those comments to...

The Crotchety Old Man

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